by Les Bird
Les Bird joined the Hong Kong Marine Police in 1976, and saw the last years of the hard-working, hard-drinking colonial policemen handing out rough justice in the World of Suzie Wong. He was one of a handful of senior officers dealing with sensitive issues including refugees fleeing Vietnam and the smuggling of guns, drugs and people to or from Communist China in the leadup to the handover of the colony back to China in 1997.
Filled with gripping stories spanning twenty years, A Small Band of Men follows Bird and his mentor, “Diamond” Don Bishop, an eccentric officer whose volatile temper and larger-than-life personality was a major influence in Bird’s career. Supported by his second-in-command, Joe Poon, Bird gained the trust of his band of men to such an extent that they followed him into danger, even at the risk of their own lives.
“A major achievement, really funny, terrifying in places and very moving. Together with its colourful characters, I found myself wandering aimlessly in the Messes and on the vessels and in the girlie-bars of that wonderful era – so brilliantly recreated here. This is a damned good book.” — Bruce Venables, author of Time of the Dragons